Klose's historic equalizer leads to split points for Germany, Ghana
JUN 21, 2014 5:00p ET
Germany drew Ghana 2-2 in Fortaleza on Saturday, in a frenzied match that went from damp squib to thriller. Mario Goetze opened the scoring before Ghana roared all the way back through Andre Ayew and Asamoah Gyan, only to have old hand Miroslav Klose save the day with his first touch off the bench.
The result leaves Germany atop the group on four points ahead of Sunday's matches -- and was not what the USA wanted at all. The Americans face Portugal in Manaus and had been hoping Die Mannschaft would do them a favor. But the Black Stars, stunned by John Brooks' late goal in their opener, had other ideas.
Few could have expected how this game would turn out. The temperature was high, the humidity was cloying and the arena in Fortaleza seemed drowsy for much of the first half. The ambient temperature at kickoff was just a single degree below the mandatory water-break threshold, and both teams struggled to maintain their speed and shape.
Ghana came out and tried to play a more direct game than they had against the USA, with Christian Atsu targeting the slow-as-molasses Benedikt Howedes as the man to beat on the flanks. Asamoah Gyan was a constant threat and with Sulley Muntari's ability to hit the target from range -- forcing keeper Manuel Neuer to make one fine save in the first half -- Ghana certainly looked a side that could give the Germans a hassle.
But many of the Germans' problems were self-inflicted. Only Mesut Ozil looked capable of creating in the first half, and despite some solid runs off the ball from Goetze and Thomas Muller, the final touch was not there, giving Fatau Dauda relatively little to do in the first half. Ghana also was very good at tracking back, with John Boye making several daring saving tackles to clean up messes down the near flank. At the break, the yawns had to be stifled, and there was little expectation that we would be treated to the goal-fest yet to come.
But after the break, both teams made subs, ironically, each removing one of the Boateng brothers. And that seemed to open the field up.
Goetze got the Germans on top first, clumsily finishing a fine pass from Mulleer with a header that deflected off his knee and in past a helpless Dauda. Goetze's run created the goal; he split the central defenders, torching Harrison Afful in the buildup. And that's when the fun started.
A fan ran on to the field, Sulley Muntari escorted him off, and off the restart, promptly sprung Afful wide right. Afful, making immediate amends, sent in a superb cross to Andre Ayew. He leapt over sub Shkodran Mustafi and delivered a peach of a header that Neuer hadnât a chance on.
Gyan would then give Ghana a temporary lead, latching on to a wonderful ball sent by Muntari to blast a ball right through Neuer's mitts. The goal sparked a wild celebration in the stands and a dance line on the field -- Gyan became the first African player to score in three World Cups with the strike.
German manager Jogi Low immediately went to his bench. Yanking the ineffective Sami Khedira and scorer Goetze, he tossed on Bastian Schweinsteiger and the old head Klose, known for popping up to score at the right time.
Seconds after entering, Schweinsteiger won a corner kick, and off that, Toni Kroos sent in a ball that was nodded on to Klose, as usual, in the right place at the back post for an easy tap in. The goal made Klose the team's all-time leading scorer at the World Cup, surpassing his idol Gerd Muller, and tied him with former Brazil star Ronaldo on 15 for the all-time overall record.
The chances kept on coming. Andre Ayew tried to fool Neuer at the near post but the keeper was too crafty for that. Muller would see a great late chance denied by a brilliant tackle from Kwadwo Asamoah. Jordan Ayew lined up a shot that Neuer had to dive well and low to stop. Gyan then pulled his shot wide left.
It was a spectacular twenty minutes of football, if in the end, frustrating for the Africans, who face a real battle to get out of the group of death with but a single point. The game ended on a sour note as Muller and Boye clashed heads at the death of the game, leaving both players bloodied and down.
Ghana will face Portugal in their final match while Germany, of course, will face the USA and their former manager, Jurgen Klinsmann.